Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★★½

Guadagnino shows himself as a truly bold filmmaker and storyteller, which those of us that have seen his previous films are already well aware of. For me there is a certain je ne sais quoi that makes Guadagnino recognizable as a driving force of both A Bigger Splash — the only other film I’ve seen by the director — and Call Me By Your Name. Most obviously, Guadagnino’s approach to any underlying issue, is always strangely subtle, but also strangely effective. In the first of the two films in question, he looked with a satiric eye at the immigration crisis in Italy, but in Thai case it seemed to be very far removed from the plot of the movie, and so it became almost anecdotal. But personally, I thought it was refreshing to see the subject matter handled like this, and though I gave A Bigger Splash a 3.5 rating, I can definitely say that it has stuck with me since I saw it, and I have thought about revisiting several times. Now, if there exist such a social critique in Call Me By Your Name it has to be the somewhat predictable inacceptance of homosexuality, and general shame from external sources. It is brought by agents entirely unseen in the film, and it is internalized in a manner so it is entirely unseen in the script. But bringing this up is merely speculation and it is so, appropriately, anecdotal.

Because Guadagnino’s film is not nearly as conceptual as it is situational and atmospheric. The film sets out to capture a time, a place, a series of moments and the feelings filling them. And in that respect I think it is undeniably and utterly successful. Each scene contributes not necessarily to the narrative we are given, but it always contributes in terms of the mood of the film. Which brings me to the second characteristic I think both films by Guadagnino exhibit to some extent, that makes his work unique. It seems as though Guadagnino engages his audience on a somewhat passive level by omitting plot points that would, in a conventional story, be included. It is by no means details that are needed to understand the film, but it is the detail that normally would add a certain hue or granularity to a story, a sort of storyteller’s bias. Guadagnino is not afraid to let the audience do some guesswork, and because of this, it is not hard for me to understand the critiques that I read against this film. It is also what makes the film for me. Simply put, the way the film is constructed, makes it an irregularly subjective film, you get out of it what you bring to it. Of course there is much more to be said about this film, but I really don’t have the time to go on about it. And regardless, if I did have anything unique and constructive to say about this film, it can be found above, all else I could think to say would probably already have been said in other reviews — like a Rohmer comparison, amazement at the acting or observations about how the dialogue feels both natural and sensational — so I’ll refrain as best as I can. For me this film should be seen by everyone, if one dares to focus and give something to this piece of art, the returns are priceless.

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